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332d ECES firefighters perform live-fire flashover training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Parr
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

332d Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters recently conducted live-fire flashover training here.

A flashover is the near-simultaneous transition from a growing fire to the ignition of all exposed combustible material and off-gasses in an enclosed area. All contents, including smoke, combust almost instantaneously engulfing the entire space in flames. 

The 332d Air Expeditionary Wing owns a flashover simulator that provides its firefighters with a unique opportunity to conduct their required live-fire training and observe the flashover process, Tech. Sgt. Joseph Cappel, 332d ECES assistant chief of training, explained.

“A flashover simulator does not produce a true flashover,” said Cappel. “Though we can bring it dangerously close and provide a teaching opportunity most burn trainers do not.”

Cappel added that it is beneficial for firefighters to have situational awareness and education on developing fire conditions and how to control fires with effective water application and ventilation tactics to minimize their risk of being trapped in a flashover.

“Simply put, you can’t control a fully developed fire by spraying water and blowing air all over the place,” Cappel said. “This can result in victims and firefighters being injured or possibly killed.”

Cappel emphasized the importance for firefighters to practice basic firemanship and understand the indicators of a flashover.

“This is why we train so hard and experience some uncomfortably high temperatures well above 1200 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Cappel.

Lt. Col. Lee Turcottte, 332d ECES commander, suited up and joined his Airmen to experience the same intense live-fire flashover training. “Sitting in a 500-degree, blacked-out room, watching for signs that the whole room is about to burst into flames was one of the most intense training scenarios I have ever experienced,” said Turcotte. “I thought I understood what firefighters might experience in a fire. I didn’t.”

The mission of the 332d ECES Fire and Emergency Services is to prevent and reduce injury and loss of life, while minimizing damage to property and the environment.